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BUILD THE WALL

Make Goaltending Elite Again

What is going on here
What is going on here
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Dean Lombardi during an interview finally gave an update on the status of Jonathan Quick. He's still out. For a while. Mid-February at the earliest. This likely does not include getting up to game speed.

Even for a best case scenario, that's obviously not good news for the Kings. Given how the past two years have gone, and how the team has looked for stretches at a time this year, I don't think it's totally out of the realm of possibility the Kings could find themselves flailing around like a high school kid at prom who took too much ecstasy by the middle of February.

So do the Kings try and address the "issue" now?

The issue being, that despite his efforts, Peter Budaj isn't exactly cutting it. Don't get me wrong. I like Budaj. But he has never been a reliable starter in the NHL. He was a moderate backup goalie at times, and even though the Kings made world beaters out of other young goalies (Jonathan Bernier, Ben Scrivens), Budaj isn't as good. He's also, well, older. Jeff Zatkoff has been far from reliable this season as well.

Say what you will about Jonathan Quick, but he's clearly better than what the Kings currently have to work with. He is better than what is likely available on the market. He is, more often than not, better than whoever is his counterpart on an opposing team on a given night. Trot out whatever numbers you want, I go by numbers and what I see (I checked and that is allowed, you can do both), though yeah he lets in comically awful goals from time to time.

Thing with those goals though, while sometimes waaaaaaaay more laughable than other "shoulda had" goals allowed, it's pretty rare compared to the more routine less hilarious "shoulda had" goals allowed by any other goalie. Of which, Quick I would argue is pretty reliable with making the saves he should make and is fairly consistent on a game by game basis. He also makes otherworldly saves pretty routinely as well to offset things a bit.

Problem for Budaj and the Kings is the fact the team has been having trouble getting back into games this year when down by two or more goals (they have yet to have a comeback from over one goal) and also have been blowing leads like...you know what let's just skip that metaphor.

In rant by Jeff Carter, he went off calling his team soft. For a lot of teams, you can usually see momentum die a bit following any goal, but especially a "bad" goal. Whether they think it's a missed call or that the goaltending was lousy, I'm not sure there is hard data on that, but it happens.

But it's happened a hell of a lot more this season so far to the Kings, and yeah, Zatkoff and Budaj have had some pretty horrendous games, which have happened far too often. More than I can remember Quick having over a stretch of a full season. Though that's not to place the blame on them entirely, as the team does go into panic mode trying to push back into games or attempting regaining control. However with the possession metrics still showing the Kings frequently running teams over, their record has been pretty shitty despite this.

If the goaltending hit snags before, usually Quick would sort things out himself and get back on track in a game or two (2013 not withstanding) and there weren't any real worries. Except now there isn't a Martin Jones/Scrivens tandem to bail the team out while Quick is drinking tall boys and getting his groin massaged.

Los Angeles, on paper at least and when healthy, are better this season than they have been the last two I would argue. But one or two bad goals and the team pushes too hard/collapses. Carter wasn't exactly wrong with the "soft" remark. But they need to get some better goaltending too. At least more consistently.

Prediction: Zatkoff gets a shutout and makes me eat my words, because that's how this always works.